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How to Write a Better Business Newsletter
by Brian Konradt
A marketing strategy is worthless if all it does is promote your business and blatantly plea to prospects to hire you. Such is the case with many business newsletters. Few writers understand how to use a business newsletter to secure clients in the long term. Instead they use their newsletters to pitch their services and products, and advertise how qualified they are. This way does not work effectively. It's why writers don't bother publishing a second issue of their newsletters because their first issues were tossed in the trash and did not get results.
Once you learn to harness my techniques, you won't be a writer who calls it quits. Your business newsletter will be different and powerful. It'll serve as a business-builder, lead-generator, and repetitious project-producing marketing tool not just a boring promotional piece that prospects and clients look forward to throwing out.
Guidelines to Create a Business-Building Newsletter
Your business newsletter should serve multiple functions, not just one. Here's how to do it.
Function #1: Use your newsletter to sell your skills and expertisebut do it quietly and cleverly.
A primary focus of your newsletter should be to provide worthy, timely, helpful, problem-solving information anything else, such as blatant promotion or bragging about the benefits of your skills and services, will trigger the prospect or client to toss your newsletter away and he or she may ignore all other future issues. For this reason, you must learn to sell yourself cleverly and subtly within the attention-arresting copy of your newsletter.
You can do so by using specific examples, samples, and results you've gotten for other clients to footnote points in your information. Your newsletter should contain 80% information and 20% (or less) promotion. You can also include any awards you've received, if you did charity work for a non-profit association to help raise funds, spoke at a workshop or gave a seminar, or had an article or book published. Clients and prospects enjoy reading newsworthy information.
Function #2: Use your newsletter as a repetitious marketing tool.
Securing a client is a multi-step process and marketing repeatedly to the same prospect or client is a vital key to secure work or additional work. By publishing your business newsletter monthly, you will satisfy this major requirement and increase the chances of the prospect or client outsourcing work to you. Although many writers publish their newsletters monthly or bi-weekly, it usually takes, according to direct mail experts, five consecutive times to make an impact.
Function #3: Use your newsletter to interest prospects and clients in what you have to say.
Your newsletter should contain interesting, problem-solving copy not fluff or vague generalizations. You can craft interesting copy by writing copy that:
a) solves a problem or problems;
b) solves a potential or future problem;
c) helps the prospect or client achieve better results;
d) lends valuable advice;
e) helps define his/her problem;
f) provides case studies of mistakes that other businesses have made and how he/she can avoid them.
Providing interesting, problem-solving copy is one way to get a prospect or client to read your newsletter immediately not next week or when he or she reorganizes the office and discovers your newsletter buried in the clutter. When you're able to get a prospect or client to read your newsletter immediately, you increase the chances of him or her taking action to contact you for an upcoming assignment or project.
Function #4: Use your newsletter to bridge together your interesting, problem-solving copy with your valuable skills.
How does a prospect or client know you're capable of exceeding their expectations on their next assignment or project, if they decided to hire you? Because your newsletter subtly shows them that you are capable. Make sure your newsletter bridges together the insightful information with your skills as a freelancer. Your information should be an extension of your experiences, skills, expertise, and knowledge. By providing this type of information, the prospect or client will realize you're well qualified to undertake their next assignment or project.
Function #5: Use your newsletter to generate new work from existing clients.
You may already write for an existing client, but that client may not realize you also write other types of competent copy. You can make existing clients aware of your other types of services by writing about how some of your services have solved problems or achieved better results for other clients.
Function #6: Use your newsletter to build rapport and establish new relationships.
When a prospect or client receives your newsletter on a frequent basis, the information you provide has the ability to create rapport and build a long-term relationship two vital elements that get prospects to take action to hire you. Each issue of your newsletter should increase awareness of your expertise and your services and keep your name and phone number fresh in the mind of the prospect or client.
You can build rapport and establish a relationship by:
a) writing in first person form;
b) providing insightful, expert-oriented information;
c) understanding the needs of the prospect or client;
d) subtly revealing your willingness and eagerness to help solve their problems.
Function #7: Use your newsletter to maintain existing relationships.
Communication is an essential link to maintaining prosperous, long-term relationships with existing clients. Your business newsletter can serve as a communications mouthpiece, keeping your name and number fresh in the minds of existing clients, as well as updating them on new events about your business and how you're helping other clients.
Function #8: Use your newsletter to initiate a sell/provide referrals.
Each newsletter has the potential to initiate a sell or bring referrals your way. As stated before, when you help a prospect solve a problem via your newsletter or provide information that shows him how to achieve better results, he'll want to call you to produce similar results or he may know someone who could benefit from your skills and expertise and refer work your way.
Function #9: Use your newsletter to generate additional responses.
Your newsletter may be the first step in a multi-step marketing process to secure clients. You can include in your newsletter other incentives to pull in responses. For example, you can offer a Free Consultation, in which you ask the prospect to call you for free advice and solutions on his current project. You can also offer a Free Material Review incentive, in which you critique a piece of the prospect's promotional material and then discuss the weaknesses and strengths with him. Or you can use your newsletter to advertise free reprint articles or back issues of your newsletter (that have your byline and phone number on them) that the prospect can request.
Function #10: Use your newsletter to increase the value of your services.
Because each newsletter subtly focuses on your skills and expertise as a freelancer, each issue builds upon the last one and emphasizes and re-emphasizes your skills and expertise. Your first issue may not have had an impact, but by the second, third, or fourth issue, the prospect begins to appreciate your problem-solving skills and may rely on your skills for his next assignment or project.
Function #11: Use your newsletter to position yourself as a top expert in your field.
The information in your business newsletter has the ability to position yourself as an expert in your field, so use this toward your advantage. Begin to think of yourself as an expert the best one around, and subtly convey this image in your copy.
To position yourself as an expert, subtly provide:
a) specific results you've gotten for other clients;
b) quotes from popular authors or keynote speakers to supplement and support what you're saying;
c) brief, interesting footnotes as to what you've learned from books and magazines, or at workshops and seminars.
When a prospect or client begins to see how knowledgeable and active you are in your field, he will begin to look upon you as an expert and you will get the work, not the other freelancer.
Function #12: Use your newsletter to create and maintain a positive image of yourself and your business.
You are responsible as to how other clients and prospects perceive you and you can change, alter and manipulate your image with a business newsletter. For example, you can create a newsletter that pigeonholes yourself as a freelancer with a special skill or talent.
How to Create Interest About Your Newsletter
Most writers mail their business newsletters randomly to prospects on their mailing lists, piggyback them with their promotional material, or leave stacks of them at workshops or networking sessions. These days e-mailing newsletters to clients and prospects have become the most popular method of distribution. Although these marketing approaches work well to create awareness about your newsletter as well as to generate leads, they don't, however, do the one vital thing: commit prospects to receive additional issues of your newsletter. The best way to maximize your results is to offer an option for prospects to "subscribe" to your free newsletter.
By asking prospects to complete a subscription form and return it to you, or subscribe via an online form, you'll be able to:
identify prospects who are interested in learning more about what you know and how you can help them;
eliminate prospects who are not interested in your skills or services;
solicit additional, specific information about the interested prospect. For example, your subscription form can ask additional questions to find out the needs and interests of the prospect.
Make sure your subscription form tells the prospect what to do with it. Give your mailing address, fax number or request the prospect to call you to request a free subscription. When prospects return their subscription forms, plug the information into a database and begin a subscription mailing list. Your existing clients should automatically be on this mailing list and should be receiving your newsletter. At the end of the year, ask those prospects who did not become paying clients to renew their subscriptions. This way you know they're still interested in learning more about what you know and how you can help them.
Writing Effective, Attention-Arresting Newsletter Copy
Here are some tips to maximize the impact of your newsletter so the prospect or client reads your information immediately and finds it valuable:
Craft a creative masthead. Do a brainstorming session with yourself to come up with ideas as to what you will name your newsletter. For example, when I provided direct mail writing services, I called my newsletter Konradt's Direct Mail Directions, because I wanted to create an image in the minds of prospects and clients that my direct mail writing skills could pull them in the right direction to get the right results. If you can, use your full or last name in your newsletter's masthead, so this way the prospect or client will immediately link your name with the insightful content of your newsletter.
Write brief copy. Avoid long-winded sentences and endless paragraphs. Favor periods over commas.
Write problem-solving copy. There are four primary reasons why a prospect or client will read your newsletter and one of them is not to be entertained. The prospect or client either wants to learn something new and different, produce better results, find solutions to existing or future problems, read case studies or experiences of your own that will help define his needs or problems.
To grab the prospect's interest immediately, start your newsletter off with a problem that he or she may face and provide the solution but not right away. In the middle, give examples of other businesses that had encountered the same problem (which you've helped them overcome), results you've gotten for other clients who faced the same dilemma, and how your skills achieved the solutions.
In one of my newsletters I used the following lead to hook the prospect: "Your small start-up company may have a great product to sell to the masses via the mail, but don't anticipate a 1.5% or better response rate. Your sales may be sluggish at first, and it's not due to competition or not tapping into the 'right' market. Here's why you might receive a sluggish response, along with 10 preventive measures you can take now to assure a profitable response rate...."
Specifics sell so always use them. This includes numbers, statistics, percentages, results, pie charts, graphs, and so on. Avoid vague or ambiguous generalizations.
Use bullets and callouts to break up the copy and pull the reader into your main points.
Craft creative column headings to separate the copy and pull the prospect into your information. Here are some column headings that I've used: Put Power into Your Promo Pieces: a column about crafting copy to pull in an order; and if not an order, a response. Envelop Screaming: Is it Necessary? a column about the pros and cons of writing copy on the outer envelop to grab attention. Repetition is the Key to a Profitable Response: a column about marketing repeatedly to the same prospective customer to solicit an order.
Use first person form to create intimacy, and speak to the reader in second-person form with the word, "you."
Provide promotional particulars at the end. It's okay to include your name, title, a 1-2 line promotional line or positioning statement that states what type of freelancer you are and who you freelance for, phone number and address, and a footnote of the types of freelance services you provide.
Include incentives. Offer a Free Consultation or a free incentive to get the prospect to contact you to learn more about your services and how you can help him or her. I often provide a Free Consultation offer: "Do you need professional advice with your current or upcoming project? Call me. I know what works and what doesn't. Let's discuss your needs. Any time: (area code)-262-3277."
* Lastly, add a brief biography line about yourself.